Shanmugam: Singapore will not take sides in South China Sea dispute

SINGAPORE: Singapore will not take sides on claims in ongoing disputes in the South China Sea, but it is pushing for faster progress in the drafting of a Code of Conduct.

Foreign Minister K Shanmugam said that in an interview with Channel NewsAsia, during his visit to Washington DC.

Mr Shanmugam said what is important is freedom of navigation in the high seas, and the ability to settle disputes peacefully.

And this is why the Code of Conduct needs to be in place, he said.

“We need to make faster progress. What will it involve? We know what we want to achieve — what we want to achieve is, claims are not going to be sorted out through the Code of Conduct, that’s a matter between the claimant states.

“But how do countries pursue their claims, what can they do, how do they interact with each other, those are issues that the Code of Conduct has got to deal with. It’s not going to be easy, it’s not going to be immediately done, it will take time, but we need to push on with it,” said Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister.

He also spoke on the recent anti-China protests in two Singapore-run industrial parks in Vietnam.

Mr Shanmugam said it is incumbent on Vietnamese authorities to guarantee the security of foreign investors.

“Those are government-to-government projects, and we have issued a statement, we think that shouldn’t happen, and the authorities need to stop that from happening.

“In the end, people come, they invest, they believe in a structure, and they believe that their security will be guaranteed, and really I think it’s incumbent upon the government to guarantee that,” he added.

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